Home > To Whom it May Concern (The Hart Brothers #1)

To Whom it May Concern (The Hart Brothers #1)
Author: J. S. Cooper

Chapter 1



“Ten billion jobs in New York City, and I’m not qualified for any of them,” I grumbled at my best friend, Lucy, and chewed down harder on the black pen in my mouth. “I’m so screwed.”

Black ink seeped onto my lower lip and I pulled the pen out of my mouth quickly before I poisoned myself. Which would be just my luck the way my life was going.

“There are loads of jobs you could get, Savannah.” Lucy walked over and sat next to me on our old white Ikea couch that looked more yellow than white now that it was five years old. “You have a degree. That alone qualifies you for, like, one billion jobs.”

“You would think so, right?” I handed her the newspaper that was in my hands. “I’ve not seen one ad looking for recent college grads with degrees in English.”

Why hadn’t anyone told me that getting a degree in English was like flushing $100,000 down the toilet? Well, more like $150,000 by the time I’d finished paying off my student loans. It would have been nice if someone had told me. Maybe I could have taken the money and gone traveling around the world instead. Not that I thought the government would have loaned me the money for that.

“What about being a teacher?” Lucy said helpfully, a hopeful smile on her face. “You could be an English teacher.”

“I would need to have a certificate of accreditation to teach in an elementary or high school.” I flopped back in the seat and sighed dramatically, shaking my long brown ponytail and running my fingers through the tendrils that had escaped at the front. “I have no certificates, and I looked at the test online yesterday and it looked hard as hell.”

“What about a nursery school, then?”

“Are you joking?” I raised an eyebrow at her. “I did not go to college for four years to read kids' books to little brats.”

“Yeah, well, with that attitude, you wouldn’t get the job, anyway.” Lucy grinned at me, and I laughed despite myself. “Savannah, you have to be flexible. There are many jobs you can get.”

“I don’t want to work at McDonald’s again.” I shuddered at the memory. “I already told you how that went for me before. I lasted three weeks, and I gained fifteen pounds. Fifteen pounds in three weeks. How is that even possible?”

“Well, you’re not in high school anymore. You have more self-control. No need to eat all the fries that you can fit in your mouth just because they’re free.”

“They weren’t even free.” I sighed. “I had a discount.”

“Well, we digress.” Lucy looked over the ads in the paper in front of her. “I’m not telling you to go back to fast food, but a paycheck is a paycheck, and you know we’ve got bills coming up soon.” Her voice trailed off as she glanced up at me and chewed her lip nervously. Lucy had been my best friend since we’d met four years ago at a poetry slam contest in Brooklyn. We’d both been new to the city, starting our first year in college and excited to explore the city. She’d been at NYU in Greenwich Village renting a small apartment in St. Marks Place, and I’d been all the way up in Morningside Heights, near Harlem at Columbia University, sharing a dorm room with a girl from Germany. After the first two years, we’d rented a small one-bedroom in the Upper West Side, with Lucy’s dad paying the rent and me paying the bills. It had worked out well, but now that we’d graduated, Lucy’s dad had said he would no longer pay the rent, and I couldn’t use student loans to pay the bills anymore, so we were up a creek without a paddle. I had three hundred dollars in the bank and needed a job quickly.

“We’re screwed,” I whined. My scruffy black and gray terrier, Jolene, ran up to me. She jumped on the couch, her big brown eyes staring at my face in concern as she sniffed the air, hoping she’d get lucky and find some random pieces of food. “How are we going to pay the rent?”

I rubbed Jolene between the ears as she snuggled up on my lap and tried to think of a way to come up with $5000 in the next couple of weeks. Not only did I have rent coming up, but my first student loan payment was due and it was more than I’d thought it would be.

“Let’s not panic.” Lucy’s eyes continued scanning the newspaper. “There has to be something you can do.” She looked up at me. “You know if I had any extra money, I would totally help you.”

“I know.” I smiled at her gratefully. Lucy was a generous person, but her internship at a minor publishing house barely paid her enough to cover her half of the rent and bills. She was lucky that she didn’t have student loans, or she’d be in just as bad a position as I was. “And thanks for asking your boss if they had another position available for me, but maybe it’s for the best that they didn’t. Could you imagine us living and working together?”

“No.” She shook her head vehemently. “I couldn’t deal with your mess in the office and at home. Sorry.”

“Hey, no fair! It was your turn to do the dishes last night, and they're still in the sink.”

“That’s because you burned almost every pot we own trying to make that chili dish you read about online.” She pursed her lips. “I do not understand how you ruined chili. You know that’s a dish you can make in a crockpot.”

“Hey, no need to show off just because you nearly got on Top Chef.”

“As an assistant to one of the producers, not as one of the chefs. My cooking skills are no better than yours.” Lucy winked at me. “I just don’t lie to myself and pretend I’m a Michelin star chef.”

“I don’t think I’m a Michelin star chef. I would like to think that I can whip up some excellent food, though.”

“You can whip up an awesome grilled cheese.” Lucy’s face froze, and she turned to me looking excited. “What if you got a job in that grilled cheese restaurant on the Lower East Side?”

“You have got to be joking, right?”

“No, but wait a second. Look at this.” She held the newspaper up and grabbed the pink highlighter that was lying on the side of the couch. She circled an ad in the paper and brought it over to me. “This sounds promising.”

“What does it say? High-paying job for English grad that loves doing poetry readings at small coffee shops?”

“Hey, I enjoy doing poetry readings as well, and my degree is in filmmaking.”

“At least you were smart enough to double major in economics. My dumb ass was too busy reading Shakespeare and Chaucer.”

“An old English man would love you. Or maybe a priest.”

“Why would a priest love me?”

“The Canterbury Tales was one of your favorites, right? Wasn’t that about a pilgrimage?”

“Lucy, sometimes I swear if you weren’t my best friend, I would kill you. Me reading a collection of stories written in Middle English doesn’t qualify me to work in a church.”

“Before you kill me, check out this job. “Wanted: college grad with outstanding personality. High-paying job in sales. No experience necessary. Need people to start now.”

“Hmm,” I grabbed the newspaper from her. “I am a college grad and I do have an outstanding personality.” I beamed my ten-thousand-dollar smile at her and shook my long brown hair with the too expensive honey-blonde highlights so I could feel it hitting my back. “I don’t really know what the job is.”

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